N.Y. couple pays nearly $31 million for 362-acre estate west of Sonoma

Sonoma County is now officially home to some of California's most coveted and expensive real estate.

A New York couple paid nearly $31 million for a 362-acre estate in the hills west of Sonoma — an apparent record high price for the county and among the biggest deals in the state.

The Tuscan-inspired villa on the side of Sonoma Mountain includes 8 acres of vineyards, seven miles of private hiking trails, and a 11,605-square-foot mansion made with 800-year-old Italian roof tiles and 200-year-old wood beams.

The Shanel Estate


The rambling country estate, which was completed in 1995, even comes with its own firetruck and a staff of seven to operate it.

The buyer is the former chief executive of Citigroup, Sanford "Sandy" Weill and his wife, Joan.

Weill, who is credited with building Citigroup into the world's largest bank before its collapse in 2008, became a target of public outrage for his involvement in Wall Street's recent financial collapse. He also made headlines as an example of corporate excess.

Weill had retired as chief executive of Citi in 2003 and chairman in 2006, and he had become well known for his philanthropic work. He is a major donor to hospitals, colleges and nonprofits. He has donated more than $250 million to Cornell University, where the medical school is named after him.

But a few weeks after Citi accepted a $45 billion taxpayer bailout, Weill took the corporate plane to vacation in Mexico, outraging the public and earning a dubious headline in the New York Post: "Pigs Fly: Citi Jets Ex-C.E.O. to Cabo."

Weill's new luxury estate, dubbed "Shanel," is no stranger to the world's elite. Former owners Gary and O.J. Shansby were known for hosting themed parties that attracted wealthy friends and powerful politicians.

The Shansbys threw hoedowns at their stables, which included a 6,000-square-foot covered riding arena. Guests included former Gov. Pete Wilson and his wife, Gayle; U.S. Ambassador to France Howard Leach and his wife, Gretchen; U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul; and California Supreme Court Justice Ronald George and his wife, Barbara.

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